Differential Expression of Munc13-2 Produces Unique Synaptic Phenotypes in the Basolateral Amygdala of C57BL/6J and DBA/2J Mice

DA Gioia , etc
J Neurosci, 2016

C57BL/6J (B6) and DBA/2J (D2) mice are well known to differentially express a number of behavioral phenotypes, including anxiety-like behavior, fear conditioning, and drug self-administration. However, the cellular mechanisms contributing to these differences remain unclear. Given the basolateral amygdala (BLA) contributes to these behaviors, we characterized strain-dependent differences in presynaptic and postsynaptic function in BLA neurons by integrating electrophysiological, biochemical, and genetic approaches to identify specific molecular mechanisms. We found that D2 glutamatergic synapses expressed enhanced release probability and lower sensitivity to both the inhibitory effects of low extracellular calcium and facilitation by phorbol esters. Furthermore, repetitive stimulation of BLA afferents at low (2 Hz) or high (40 Hz) frequencies revealed that B6 terminals, relative to D2 terminals, were more sensitive to synaptic fatigue principally because of reduced vesicle recycling rates. Additionally, B6 synapses exhibited more robust augmentation of spontaneous release after repetitive stimulation relative to the D2 strain. In silico analysis of the inheritance of synaptic physiology from an array of BXD recombinant inbred strains (Jansen et al., 2011) identified a segment on chromosome 4 containing the gene encoding Munc13-2, which has calcium-/phorbol ester-binding domains and controls presynaptic function. We subsequently found that B6 mice express substantially higher levels of Munc13-2 compared with the D2 strain whereas expression of several release-related proteins, including Munc13-1, was equivalent. We then knocked down the expression of Munc13-2 in B6 mice using a short hairpin RNA and found this recapitulated the presynaptic phenotype of D2 BLA synapses.

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J Neurosci
doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1785-16.2016
Wake Forest School of Medicine